18th October 2021
Our third Riversmeet Slow Reading course “To The Lighthouse” is awash with autobiographical material. The affection and nostalgia connected to Talland House in St Ives, where the Stephens family holidayed when Virginia and her siblings were children, runs through the whole book. The lighthouse dominates the landscape of the novel in ways similar to its presence in Carbis Bay. The acidic portrait of her father and his relationship to his children contrasts with the esteem and, indeed, love with which their mother is portrayed. The hole torn in the lives of the characters by death shapes the book, with its magnificent “Time Passes” section at its core.
Yet at the same time much of this material is uncoupled from the detail of autobiography and so given a greater resonance. The slaughter of the Great War fills that central section, and turns death from a private grief to a wider cultural and social loss. The concern with artistic form that carries the book through to its conclusion is not just rooted in Virginia Woolf’s close alliances with painters and critics but is also a contribution to the concerns of modernist representation. And then there is also the - to me inexplicable - displacement of the lighthouse from Cornwall to the Hebrides!
Included in the course:
- A reading guide and explanation of the five course units
- Access to a series of five fifteen minute online lectures, released each fortnight throughout the course
- A fortnightly zoom webinar/discussion group
- Access to supporting material for those who want to read or view background material